Players head into club's first-ever MLS training camp with a chip on their shoulder
NASHVILLE – Nashville SC’s roster is as diverse as they come in Major League Soccer. It’s a mix of players from different countries, different age groups and different paths to Music City.
However, many of these players are tied together by one thing: a hunger to prove they’re worthy of being a major contributor to this club.
One of those players is forward Abu Danladi, who was selected by Nashville SC with its first pick in the MLS Expansion Draft. Danladi was the top pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft and will be looking to add to his resume after three seasons with Minnesota United.
“You always want to go somewhere you’re needed,” Danladi said. “You feel that you’re part of the family, that you’re wanted. You see what you have and what you can bring to the team. He [GM Mike Jacobs] did his part about believing in me and adding me to this great team. Now it’s all up to me to show that they made the right decision. I can do that by going on the field and doing the best I can to help my teammates and working as hard as I can.”
Danladi isn’t the only one with something to prove. Midfielder Dax McCarty, an MLS veteran with more than 300 regular season appearances, was acquired from the Chicago Fire for $50,000 in General Allocation Money, $50,000 in Targeted Allocation Money and a second-round SuperDraft pick in 2021. McCarty has been around the block in MLS, and he is ready to prove he’s a strong leader and a bona fide contributor for this new expansion side.
“I feel like I’ve been brought in to take on a little bit of a leadership role, but also to use my experience to help guide us through the process of this first expansion season,” McCarty said. “It’s a challenge that I’ve never had in my career, and it’s one I’m really looking forward to. I’ve played on some winning teams, I’ve played on good teams, I’ve played on not-so-good teams. I think that I know what it takes to win in this league and so I’m going to try my best to use that and try my best to help guys get acclimated that haven’t played in MLS before and obviously be a mentor to the young guys.”
Goalkeeper Joe Willis was acquired in an Expansion Draft trade with the Houston Dynamo, having been a part of many winning teams in his career. For him, this new chapter of his career is a blank slate as he looks to prove he belongs in what Head Coach Gary Smith called “the best goalkeeping corps in MLS.”
“Whenever you have an expansion team, it’s tough to know how it’s going to turn out,” Willis said. “But I think that’s the exciting part about it is that we kind of control our own destiny and we get to decide what type of team we’re going to be and what type of mentality we’re going to have going into the season.”